Merchant Category Codes (MCC)

Merchant Category Codes (MCC) classifications are implementations of ISO 18245:2003 used by major payment card organizations such as MasterCard, Visa, and Amex to categorize merchants based on the type of their business activity. MCC codes are used in determining interchange fees, risk assessment, restricting purchases for certain card types, as well as tax reporting in the U.S.

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Merchant Category Codes (MCC) crosswalk tables to over 50 different industry classifications.


Each MCC code consists of 4 digits. The Merchant Category Codes classification system has codes for various business activities (e.g. MCC 5532 - Automotive Tire Stores), as well as codes for specific merchants (e.g. MCC 3001 - American Airlines, or MCC 3513 Westin Hotels). MCC classification is focused primarily on categorizing the businesses/institutions able to receive credit card payments. Notably, most of the businesses in the agricultural and manufacturing space are missing from the classification. For this reason, creating correspondence tables between MCC and other industry classifications such as SIC or NAICS is task where many judgement calls need to be made.

The canonical version of Merchant Category Codes is defined by ISO 18245:2003 Retail financial services — Merchant category codes standard. The table below show the code ranges used in raw ISO 18245:2003 standard along with the types of merchants in each range.

Range of Codes Description
0100-0699 Reserved
0700-0999 Agricultural services
1000-1499 Reserved
1500-2999 Contracted services
3000-3999 Reserved for private use
4000-4799 Transportation
4800-4999 Utilities
5000-5599 Retail outlets
5500-5599 Automobiles and vehicles
5600-5699 Clothing outlets
5700-5999 Miscellaneous outlets
6000-7299 Service providers
7300-7529 Business services
7530-7799 Repair services
7800-7999 Amusement and entertainment
8000-8999 Professional services and membership organizations
9000-9199 Reserved for ISO use
9200-9402 Government services
9403-9999 Reserved

History & versions

The original Merchant Category Codes list was published in April 2003 by International Organization for Standardization as a part of ISO-18245:2003. It has been last reviewed in 2017, and remains valid at the time of writing this article (October 2020). The standard is available for purchase at ISO website.

The most popular implementations of ISO 18245:2003 are Visa MCC and MasterCard MCC. MasterCard refers to MCCs as Card Acceptor Business Codes, whereas Visa sticks to the conventional name Merchant Category Codes. Both implementations are mostly similar, and the main differences between them are inclusion of particular merchants from the list, and codes specific to activities carried by a particular payment card organization. For example MCC 3176 Metroflight Airlines and MCC 9701 Visa Credential Server are included only in the Visa MCC list, and MCC 3547 Breakers Resort and MCC 6537 MoneySend Intercountry only in MasterCard MCC list. A complete list of MCC codes specifying differences between Visa and MasterCard versions is available at citibank website.

Both Visa and MasterCard update their MCC lists periodically, but they do not publish specific versions of the list online. Instead, only the latest versions of the classifications are available.

Besides Visa and MasterCard other payment card organizations such as American Express (Amex) and Discover use their own implementations of ISO-18245:2003.

Where is it used?

MCC codes are assigned by the acquirer to merchants using their services according to the guidelines published by the payment card organization they work with. An acquirer (acquiring bank) is a bank (or a financial institution) that processes debit/credit card payment on behalf of the merchant. For example, when a bookstore starts doing business with MasterCard it will be given MCC code 5192. These codes are then used:

  • to determine the interchange fee paid by the issuer (a bank or a financial institution that issued a card) to the acquirer
  • categorizing transactions of the credit card statement
  • to prevent certain types of purchases on some cards (e.g. corporate credit cards may prevent purchases at some types of merchants)
  • in risk assessment of a credit card transactions
  • in credit card reward programs, where the credit card user gets different rewards for spending on certain categories of items
  • (United States only) in payment reporting to IRS under section 6041 or section 6041A of the Internal Revenue Code (Form 1099-MISC).

Further resources

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